Jan 06

GaragePi – A Cigar Box Raspberry Pi Project

My GaragePi is a simple Raspberry Pi project I put together for out in the garage. Originally I was just going to hook it up to the TV to use it for Web Browsing and media streaming but I decided to take things a step further to add a humidity and temperature sensor and figure out a cool way to store it.

I have some other ideas for other features I may add to the GaragePi one day but for starters this is what I have going (and what I am going to cover in this post):

  • Everything stored neatly in a cigar box
  • Push button to safely power off and on the Raspberry Pi
  • Raspberry Pi Power Indicator (is this thing on)
  • Get the current temperature and humidity of the garage.
  • Create a remotely accessible Dashboard (a simple page) to display stuff

For this project I used a Raspberry Pi 3 that I received with a Vilros project kit I purchased from Amazon. The Vilros Raspberry Ultimate Project kit is a fantastic kit if you are just getting started. Along with a Raspberry Pi 3 it includes a SD Card, a power supply, a case, a breadboard, a GPIO ribbon cable, a GPIO breakout board, a HDMI cable, and a bunch of other components such as switches, jumper wires, resistors, and LEDs to use for projects.

I really like the project kits from Vilros, I have ordered a couple different versions of their kits and all of them have come with great quality components. If you are just getting into tinkering with Raspberry Pis the ultimate project kit includes everything you need to get the Pi up and running and the components to get you started on some interesting projects using the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO.
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Nov 13

Quick SimpliVity Daily Backup Report Powershell Script

Just a quick powershell script I put together for a customer which uses the SimpliVity REST API to generate a report of the SimpliVity Backups taken in the last 24 hours: https://github.com/herseyc/SVT/blob/master/SVT-DailyBackupReport.ps1

Pretty simple output showing the VM, state, and type of backup.


Nov 03

SimpliVity VM Backup Policy Matches Default Datastore Backup Policy

A Datastore is how the SimpliVity Data Virtualization Platform (DVP) is presented to ESXi hosts. When a SimpliVity Datastore is created a default backup policy for the datastore is set. This ensures every virtual machine running on the SimpliVity DVP is assigned a backup policy. When a new virtual machine is created on, or migrated into, the SimpliVity DVP it inherits the default backup policy configured on the SimpliVity Datastore.

Once a virtual machine is assigned a backup policy it will keep the configured policy until the policy is changed (either by an Admin using the vSphere Web Client, from the OVC CLI, or using the SVT REST API). Moving a virtual machine from one SimpliVity Datastore to another will not change the virtual machine’s backup policy to the new datastore’s default policy. Assigning a different default backup policy on a SimpliVity Datastore will not update the assigned backup policies of virtual machines already running on the SimpliVity Datastore.

SimpliVity customers will often create multiple SimpliVity Datastores to separate virtual machines based on the level of protection, or the Recovery Point Objective (RPO), required. For example:

  • Datastore: SVT-Platinum – VMs with a RPO of 15 minutes
    Datastore Default Backup Policy configured to backup VMs every 15 minutes.
  • Datastore: SVT-Gold – VMs with a RPO of 4 hours
    Datastore Default Backup Policy configured to backup VMs every 4 hours.
  • Datastore: SVT-Silver – VMs with a RPO of 12 hours
    Datastore Default Backup Policy configured to backup VMs every 12 hours.
  • Datastore: SVT-Bronze – VMs with a RPO of 24 hours
    Datastore Default Backup Policy configured to backup VMs once a day.

This works out great, unless through the life cycle of a virtual machine it is promoted (becomes a more critical workload requiring a shorter RPO) or demoted (becomes a less critical workload with a less aggressive RPO). As an example: A new virtual machine may initially be deployed onto the Silver SimpliVity Datastore, which has a default backup policy providing a RPO of 12 hours, for evaluation or testing – the new virtual machine is assigned this policy when it is deployed. Then this virtual machine is promoted to production and is moved to the Gold SimpliVity Datastore but since the virtual machine already has a backup policy assigned the backup policy is not changed to the default backup policy of the Gold SimpliVity Datastore.

The default backup policy of a SimpliVity Datastore and the backup policy assigned to virtual machines can be easily determined using the SimpliVity Extension in the vSphere Web Client. Recently I had a customer ask if there is was a programmatic way to generate a report to validate if the backup policy assigned to virtual machines running on a SimpliVity Datastore matches the default backup policy assigned to the datastore. The answer is yes, and it is super easy using SimpliVity’s REST API.
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Oct 31

HPE SimpliVity vBrownBag Build Day

Last week the vBrownBag team featured a HPE SimpliVity 380 Build Day Live.

Great detailed look at a SimpliVity deployment. Through the day they walked through a HPE SimpliVity Deployment from the unboxing of a HPE factory configured rack of SimpliVity gear, to the deployment of a SimpliVity 3+2 configuration (3 nodes in Production and 2 nodes for DR), to post-deployment testing, and finally migration of workloads from a legacy environment on to the SimpliVity infrastructure. Great technical hands-on overview of the entire process.

The recording of the live build is available for all and is embedded below:

Fantastic job @DemitasseNZ and team!!!
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Oct 01

Weather with Python, TkInter, Raspberry Pi…

Just messing around this weekend with some Python and TkInter. I put together a little weather app which uses Weather Underground’s API to grab the current local weather conditions (or the weather conditions from the state and city specified in the script) and creates a window to display the weather using TkInter widgets.

The script is available on GitHub. You will need a Weather Underground API Key which you can get for free. The free key allows 500 free API calls per day.

The following information about the current weather conditions is displayed: observation location, observation time, weather conditions (clear, cloudy, etc), a visible representation (icon) of the current conditions, temperature in Fahrenheit, and relative humidity. Here is what my weather app looks like running on the Raspberry Pi.

Took me a bit to make the icon image to display correctly. The code snippet Display an Image from a URL (Tkinter, Python) helped me get it working.
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Sep 25

Some VCAP 6.5 DCV Design Exam Study Notes

A couple weeks ago I sat and passed the VCAP 6.5 Datacenter Design Exam. It was a good but tough exam. The VCAP 6.5 Design exam is a bit different from past VCAP Design Exams – there are no Visio type design questions (I did not take the VCAP6, but based on the blueprint it looks like it was mostly Visio). The VCAP6.5 Design exam is made up of multiple choice and “drag and drop” questions.

Couple of tips for the exam:

  • Read the Exam Prep Guide!!! Everything you need to be successful is there (except experience).
  • When taking the exam MAKE SURE YOU READ THE QUESTION or DESIGN SCENARIO completely, then read it again before selecting your answers or completing the question activity.
  • You are able to flag questions for review – but use this wisely. If you are prepared – trust your gut – don’t second guess yourself.
  • Take your time. Since there are no Visio style questions you are given plenty of time (IMHO) to complete the exam. Relax, read the question, answer, move on.
  • Technical tip: Have a deep understand of dependencies required for, and limitations of, vSphere features and services and how these dependencies may impact the ability to meet a design requirement or may introduce risks into a design.

Here are the VMware certification official exam details:

VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization Design Exam
Certification Page: https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=102518&ui=www_cert
3V0-624 Exam Page: https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=102526&ui=www_cert
Prep-Guide: https://mylearn.vmware.com/lcms/web/portals/certification/exam_prep_guides/Exam_Prep_Guide_VCAP6.5-DCV_Design.pdf

I did not give myself very long to prepare. I focused a majority of my prep on the new features available in vSphere 6.5 and around the upgrade/migration to vSphere 6.5 and the VCSA. Here are some notes I jotted while studying with links to resources (all of which can be found in the Prep-Guide):
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Sep 24

VMware Free Self-paced eLearning

Some free elearning resources for my ITN classes (and for everyone) – here are some great free self-paced elearning for vSphere 6 and vSphere 6.5.


Really well done foundation level online courses for datacenter virtualization, desktop virtualization, network virtualization, and more…

If you are new to vSphere or looking for a good overview of the fundamentals and available features in vSphere 6.x, Horizon, or NSX these elearning courses are AWESOME (and FREE!).


Aug 14

Recreating a vmdk descriptor file with vmkfstools

A VMware virtual machine disk is made up of two files: the .vmdk file and the -flat.vmdk file. The .vmdk file is the descriptor file and the -flat.vmdk file contains the data. If you have the -flat.vmdk file you can recreate the descriptor file using vmkfstools. This VMware KB: Recreating a missing virtual machine disk descriptor file (1002511) walks through the process.

This just saved my butt (again, but it has been awhile) so putting it here for future reference.

Jul 17

Jumbo Frames – Make sure it is setup end-to-end.

Working with a customer the other day to migrate his direct connect SimpliVity deployment to a 10 GbE switch topology to facilitate adding a couple of compute nodes to expand the CPU and memory resources available to the cluster. He went through the migration but could not get things to work correctly. The issue ended up being the MTU configuration on the physical switch.

Mis-configuration of the physical switch is probably the most common issue I come across when configuring virtual networking to use Jumbo Frames. The configuration varies from switch to switch – vendor to vendor. On some switches the configuration is done globally, on other switches it is configured on individual ports, and on some switches it must be enabled globally and configured per port.

Jumbo Frames must be configured correctly end-to-end. This means on the vSwitch, vmkernel interfaces, physical switches, endpoint – everything must be configured to support the larger frames end-to-end. Using larger frames will provide more efficient processing of network traffic (in many cases) but it does require a bit more complexity. If any part of the path is mis-configured, network frames larger than 1500 may not pass. If they do pass they will be fragmented, which defeats the purpose of using Jumbo Frames.
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Jul 03

DIY Garage Workbench

This post is not about virtualization, my home lab, or technology. Going a little low tech here to share a DIY project I did over the weekend, a mobile garage workbench using some free plans I found over at Shanty2Chic.com.

The workbench turned out really nice, is very sturdy, and easy to move around. I haven’t decided to paint it or not. Will probably just leave it raw and put a coat of clear poly on the top and shelf to seal them. The lumber and screws required to build the workbench came in at $63 from Lowe’s and the casters were $24, so all total $87 (plus the cost of the Kreg R3 Jig Kit which I will definitely be able to use for other projects). Took just a few hours to put it all together. Going to modify the plans a bit to build a 4′ one out of pressure treated wood for wife to use as a potting bench.
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